cover image Freiheit!: The White Rose

Freiheit!: The White Rose

Andrea Grosso Ciponte. Plough, $24 (112p) ISBN 978-0-87486-344-4

The anti-Nazi resistance of Germany’s youth-led White Rose collective is depicted in a somber, gorgeous style by Ciponte’s painterly hand. The memorial opens in 1943 in Munich with 21-year-old Sophie Scholl and her brother, Hans, covertly distributing thousands of leaflets that call on German students to fight fascism: “The day of reckoning has come–the reckoning of German youth with the most abominable tyrant our people have ever been forced to endure.” The timeline and additional characters who join them can be hard to follow in Ciponte’s elegaic retelling, which features many cinematic shots of the students striding and in strident discussion, but in places lacks context clues and labels that would help guide readers unfamiliar with the history. (Though the many interspersed quotes and full reproductions of the leaflets in back matter provides ample authenticity.) The beautifully lit panels play with darkness and light, balancing youthful joy with the long shadows of Nazis’ power. In one poignant scene, the youth paint the rallying cry “Freiheit!” (German for “freedom!”) in white across a wall at night. Even though their graffiti is erased the next day, the friends cherish every wild glimmer of defiance, even as three are killed for their role in the resistance. Their anti-fascist fearlessness resonates in Ciponte’s moving treatment, which will speak to like-minded young activists. (Feb.)